Adjusting Your Headrest Could Save You


I’m sure that you drive around in your car or truck all the time, but just how comfortable is the headrest? And what about the headrests for your passengers? Comfort is important but there are also other reasons why you need to have a properly adjusted headrest.

Once you get into your vehicle, take a look at the headrests. Sit in the driver’s seat, and see how that feels. Here are some tips about how to properly adjust your headrests:

  • The headrest should be at the same height as your head
  • If you are tall, move the headrest up
  • The distance from your head to the headrest, should be less than four inches
  • You do not have to drive with the headset touching your head (unless that is comfortable)
  • Check the angle of your seat; adjusting this angle may help you adjust the headrest
  • Make sure to check and adjust the seats in the back as well, if adjustable

Why Make Adjustments?

There are some good reasons to make adjustments to your vehicle seats and headrests. The headrests are not just in place for comfort, but are actually a safety feature in your vehicle. Understanding the adjustments and the reasons behind them can reduce your chance of injury in a car accident.

Features in all vehicles are designed for an average size and weight, so some adjustments will always be needed for drivers and passengers. Basically, if you are hit by another vehicle from behind, your body will be pushed forward. The seat is designed to keep your body and head moving together, but if your head suddenly snaps back – that is commonly known as the injury, whiplash.

If you adjust the headrests, they can help in cases of where whiplash could possibly happen. You do not have to be in a high-speed collision to have whiplash occur – some the testing has been at speeds of 32 km/hr.

Some statistics about Injuries

In Canada, a study sponsored by the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) found that only 14% of Canadian drivers had their headrests adjusted to the “good” position. In the United States, car insurers report that neck strain and neck injuries are the most common claims they have.  Here is some more information about making adjustments:

  • About 75% of headrests are adjustable
  • The IBC says soft tissue injuries are largely preventable
  • If Canadians adjust headrests, neck injuries could be reduced by about 40%
  • It’s more comfortable to drive with adjusted seats and headrests
  • If neck injuries are reduced, it reduces overall suffering and pain
  • This can lower overall insurance premiums (with less neck injuries during accidents)
  • Rear-end collisions make up about 80% of soft tissue injuries in accidents

Take a look at your vehicles, all the seats in your vehicles. Get yourself and your passengers in the seats, and take a look at where your head is, and where the headrests are positioned. This may help you in a future rear-end collision, or whenever your head is moved suddenly while driving.

References

Cars.com, by Jennifer Geiger.  How to Properly Adjust Your Head Restraint. March 5, 2014.   https://www.cars.com/articles/2014/03/how-to-properly-adjust-your-head-restraint/

Canada Safety Council. Properly Adjusted Headrests Prevent Injuries. [n.d.]   https://canadasafetycouncil.org/traffic-safety/properly-adjusted-headrests-prevent-injuries

Consumer Reports. How to save your neck in a rear-end crash. April 2014. https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/12/how-to-save-your-neck-in-a-rear-end-crash/index.htm

The Globe and Mail, by Joanne Will. How should my car head rest be positioned? March 26, 2017.     https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/commuting/how-should-my-car-head-rest-be-positioned/article9664615/

Uninsured Drivers


As drivers, we often assume that one part of driving a vehicle is having valid insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone who is driving on our streets feels the same way. Uninsured motorists are people operating motor vehicles without insurance, or with insurance that has lapsed or been cancelled.

A North American Problem

The research and statistics show that this is an issue across North America. Throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico, a percentage of drivers have no insurance (or no valid insurance). According to a senior Vice President at the Insurance Research Council (IRC), this situation, “….forces responsible drivers who carry insurance to bear the burden of paying for injuries caused by drivers who carry no insurance at all.”

In terms of having insurance, the purpose of uninsured motorist coverage is to provide financial protection for you as an insured driver if you get into an accident caused by an uninsured or even underinsured driver.

The United States

Car insurance is required to legally drive in 49 of the states within the United States.  According to the Insurance Reserch Council, in 2012, 12.6% of U.S. drivers had no vehicle insurance. Why do so many people choose to drive without insurance?

Reasons:

  • It’s too expensive
  • Could not afford it during the economic downturn
  • Some American states have very expensive insurance rates (e.g. Florida and New Jersey)
  • Some drivers were insured, and chose to let the policy lapse, instead of paying it

The IRC estimates the states with the highest percentages of uninsured motorists are: Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Florida.

The rules for uninsured motorist coverage, varies from state to state. Some states require that you have this coverage, added to your policy (such as Maryland and West Virginia), in some states you must purchase it (unless you decline it in writing), such as California and Texas. And some states require that this coverage is offered, even if you don’t purchase it – including Colorado and Delaware.

Canada – a gap in the data

While doing the research, it became clear that there is not one good source for information on uninsured drivers in Canada. Because Canada has the 10 provinces, the data collected seems to be on a province by province basis. For example, Newfoundland and Labrador would like to have a better system of keeping track of uninsured drivers – noted in a Canadian Underwriter article from December 2017. This issue runs across all provinces.

What about British Columbia?

If we look specifically at B.C., here is what the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) suggests. They recommend that you make sure that YOU have appropriate insurance coverage, rather than rely on the insurance coverage of other people.

When you purchase car insurance through ICBC that is basic coverage. But you can top up this coverage with other items – such as Extension Underinsured Motorist Protection (UMP). This increases the coverage that you have, if the other driver is uninsured, or does not have enough insurance coverage.

Benefits of Underinsured Motorist Protection

The UMP coverage can help cover things like:

  • Medical costs
  • Rehabilitation
  • Lost wages

The coverage will cover you, the driver, but also any members of your household in the vehicle as well. Additional coverage is for you, or any members of your household that are injured as pedestrians or cyclists, or if any of you are injured in a vehicle, other than your own.

ICBC Notes

To make sure that you get ALL of the coverage listed above, you need to make sure that you have the UMP coverage for each vehicle in your household. You want to have all of your loved ones covered, in each vehicle you own.

ICBC suggests that you speak with your local Autoplan dealer. Getting the UMP coverage, can be that extra peace of mind – often for not that much extra expense.

When you go to purchase any kind of insurance, make sure that you weigh all the factors. The next time you are insuring a vehicle with ICBC, ask about the underinsured motorist protection. You can make the most informed decision for your vehicle, and for you and your family.

References

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Extension Underinsured Motorist Protection. http://www.icbc.com/autoplan/optional/Pages/underinsured-protection.aspx Copyright 2018.

NerdWallet, Inc. Understanding Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Insurance. July 20, 2017.https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/understanding-uninsured-motorist-property-damage-insurance/ 

Canadian Underwriter. Province looks for ways to keep track of uninsured drivers. December 18, 2017. https://www.canadianunderwriter.ca/insurance/province-looks-ways-keep-track-uninsured-drivers-1004125273/

Buy Auto Insurance.com. Are You Safe on the Road?: the Benefits of Uninsured Motorist Coverage. 2013. http://www.buyautoinsurance.com/uninsured-motorists/

Teens Behind the Wheel


Many of us do not think about driving, in fact, we don’t even think about it at all. It’s just something we do almost every day, something we do on a regular basis, and really, do not give it a second thought. But after doing some research, there is an important pause to take, about teens and driving. Here’s how Nichole Morris put it, a researcher from the University of Minnesota:  “If you’re going to have an early, untimely death, the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17, and the reason for that is driving.”

American Statistics

If we look to the statistics regrading teenage driving, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. states that in the U.S., in 2015, 2,333 teens ages 16–19 were killed and 221,313 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes in 2014. That means that six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries. In the U.S., for the age group, deaths from motor vehicle accidents outstrip other causes of death such as suicide, cancer, and other types of accidents.

Also, Charlie Klauer, a research scientist at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, said her research suggested the numbers were even higher because many teenage accidents go unreported. These are accidents and incidents that happened, but were never reported to the police.

Canadian Statistics

In Canada, MADD Canada collects information on young people and driving. MADD (which stands for Mothers Against Drunk Driving) started in 1980 in the U.S. and the Canadian branch started in 1989. They are a non-profit organization that seeks to stop drunk driving, and supports those who have been affected by drunk driving.

MADD notes that vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death for teenagers in Canada.  Motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death for people between the ages of 16 to 25 years old, and alcohol or drugs are a factor in 55 percent of these crashes.  Young people tend to continue to be over-represented in crash statistics – they only make up about 14 percent of the population, but make up over 33 percent of the crash-related deaths.

Why is this the case?

Why do teenagers have such a high rate of death in vehicle accidents? From the literature, there is not one specific reason; there are several factors that contribute to teens having high death rates from vehicle accidents – both in the U.S. and Canada.

Inexperience

Most teens are inexperienced when it comes to driving. They do not have the years of driving experience that older drivers already have. Many of the older drivers have encountered a variety of different and challenging driving situations. Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.

Driving with Passengers

Adding non-family member passengers to the mix increases the risk of a teen having a car accident by 44 percent. And that number doubles with a second passenger. In British Columbia, we have a graduated licencing system, and new drivers with an L and N – they can only drive with one passenger. And the restriction is the same for the L and N drivers.

Driving while Impaired

Any amount of drugs or alcohol will affect your ability to drive.  The addition of drugs or alcohol may also hamper driving decisions while on the road. Alcohol affects judgement, hand-eye coordination, the ability to focus, the ability to recognize possibly dangerous driving situations, or the ability to recognize poor road conditions. And young men account for 87 percent of the young fatally injured drinking drivers and 89 percent of the seriously injured drinking drivers. Canadian research shows that numbers are increasing of Canadians who are now driving, after taking drugs.

Seatbelt Use

There seems to be a perception among teenagers that seatbelts are not needed for every vehicle trip.  If you compare teens to all other age groups, they are less likely to use a seatbelt. In 2015, only 61% of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.

Distracted Driving

The use of cellphones while driving continues to be a very big problem. This affects all drivers, not just teens. “Teens’ prevalence for engaging their devices is higher than other age groups,” Dr. Klauer said, “and their risk for being involved in a crash when they do is higher.” 

Steve Wallace from the Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island says, “”Texting … will quickly become in Canada the chief cause of death behind the wheel for teens.” And he’s saying that, even with B.C. having some of the strongest testing regulations in North America, for new drivers.

And it now appears that, for a long time, drinking while driving was the number one killer for teens behind the wheel – but texting while driving is starting to change that statistic – and increase the number of teen deaths due to distracted driving.

Recommendations

If you are a teen driver, or have teen drivers in your household, here are some helpful ideas for driving – driver inexperience (may need help or a skilled passenger with them), limit driving with teen passengers, increasing use of seat belts while driving, teens may be uncomfortable driving at night, making arrangements so teens will not be able to drive while impaired, and for cellphones – putting cellphones away, in the trunk, or turning off all notifications while driving.

References

CBC News. Distracted driving: texting will become largest cause of teen deaths, predicts instructor. March 16, 2016. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/distracted-driving-texting-will-become-largest-cause-of-teen-deaths-1.3488719

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.) Teen Drivers: Get the Facts. Updated October 16, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC). Driver Licensing: New Drivers. http://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/new-drivers/Pages/default.aspx Copyright 2017.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Youth and Impaired Driving. http://madd.ca/pages/programs/youth-services/statistics-links/ (accessed December 5, 2017).

The New York Times. Teenage Drivers? Be Very Afraid. March 16, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/fashion/teenagers-driving-parents.html

The Issues with Drunk Driving


Everyone knows that drunk driving is a problem.  Driving after drinking is deadly. If you drive while impaired, you could get arrested or worse—be involved in a traffic crash that causes serious injury such as a brain injury or death. Also called driving under the influence (DUI), drunk driving is the offense of driving or operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs, including recreational drugs, to the point where the driver can no longer operate the motor vehicle safely. 

Canadian Statistics

In 2015, the police reported 72,039 impaired driving incidents in Canada. This is the lowest number since these statistics were first recorded (that was in 1986). Also, this number was lower than the 2014 number by 4 per cent.

While the Canadian statistics are the lowest since 1986, drunk driving still causes accidents. If we look at the provinces, the provinces with the highest rates of incidents were:  the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Saskatchewan. And the provinces with the lowest rates of incidents were:  Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.

Let’s take a look at gender and age. In Canada, most of the people charged with drunk driving are male. However, the number of women charged with drunk driving offences has increased over time — from 8% in 1986 to 20% in 2015. Young adults aged 20 to 24 tended to have the highest rates of offences (by age), but younger people have had the largest declines in rates of offences.

American Statistics

Traffic accidents are predominantly caused by driving under the influence.  In the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that 28 people die every day in the U.S. due to an alcohol related accident. That equates to one person every 51 minutes. And in the United States, drunk driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year. In 2015, that number was 10,265 deaths.

Impairment – Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol reduces the function of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning and muscle coordination. All these abilities are essential to operating a vehicle safely. Alcohol level is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood.  This is called Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC. It is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol content exceeding eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood (0.08 BAC). At this level, the crash risk increases exponentially.

If the police have reasonable grounds to believe a person is committing, or at any time within the preceding three hours has committed this offence, they may request the person submit a blood and/ or breath sample. It is also an offence to fail or refuse to comply with the request without a reasonable excuse. The BAC is measured with a breathalyzer, a device that measures the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath, or by a blood test.

In British Columbia, if a police officer suspects a driver is affected by drugs, they may conduct a standard field sobriety test. A failing performance of this test is grounds to impose sanctions (such as 24-hour prohibition). He or she may have to undergo a drug recognition evaluation by a specialized drug recognition expert.

Other Options

If you have had a fun night out – what can you do? Better to make a plan, than drive under the influence. There is a variety of options available to those who are drivers:

  • Take transit to get home
  • Determine one person to the be designated driver in your group
  • Leave your car where it is, and call a cab to take you home
  • Ask a friend to drive you home (in their vehicle or yours)
  • A number of the “safe ride” options:
    • These services will drive you home
    • They will drop you off or they will drive your car directly to your house
    • There are at least seven of these companies in the Lower Mainland
    • Own Driver, or DesignatedRide.ca are two examples

Stay safe, think about all of your options, and explore the Safe Ride companies that are available. Nobody wants to add themselves to those Canadian driving under the influence statistics.

References

Statistics Canada. Impaired Driving in Canada. Published 2016. https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2016001/article/14679-eng.htm

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (U.S.) Risky Driving / Drunk Driving.  https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving (accessed October 12, 2017).

Government of British Columbia. Driving While Affected by Drugs or Alcohol. http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/road-safety-rules-and-consequences/drug-alcohol  (accessed October 12, 2017)

Wikipedia. Driving Under the Influence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_under_the_influence

(accessed October 12, 2017)

The Future of Driving


Where is the future of driving going? This article explains many of the changes that are coming to driving and transportation.

The Current Situation

The world has a variety of car producers, who make all different kinds of cars. There is much speculation about where this is headed in the future – by 2020, by 2030, even by 2050!

As recently as August, Domino’s Pizza and Ford Motors have teamed up to provide driverless pizza deliveries. This is happening in the Ann Arbour, Michigan area. The plan is that hot pizza will arrive in a driverless Ford Fusion but there will still be a company engineer manually driving the car. “We’re interested to learn what people think about this type of delivery,” said Russell Weiner, president of Domino’s USA. The main change will be that customers will have to leave their home, to come to the car, and take out the pizza. Apparently, Ford is also in talks to work on future grocery deliveries, with autonomous vehicles.

Over the next few years, we are going to see more and more testing of new kinds of vehicles. Recently in the Netherlands, they have been testing self-driving trucks, where there is a lead truck, and a driverless truck follows behind, in a convoy pattern. This same kind of testing has already taken place in the U.S., Germany, and Japan. The same convoy testing is slated to take place in the U.K. next year, and there are definitely fuel savings, especially for the second truck in those convoys.

Electric Cars

An electric car is a vehicle propelled by one or more electric motors, from the electrical energy that is stored in rechargeable batteries. Some issues with electric vehicles are that they can take a long time to charge up the batteries. Also, depending where you live, there may not be that many charging stations (although larger North American cities have growing numbers of charging stations).

Hybrid vehicles use more than one source of power. This could include a variety of power sources, such as gasoline or diesel, and battery power, or the use of human power (like pedals), or a plug-in charger. There are quite a few possibilities for power with hybrids.

There are a number of manufacturers who are currently creating electric vehicles and the electric hybrid vehicles as well. In Canada, there are variety of these from BMW, Audi, the Chevrolet Volt, the Chrysler Pacifica, Ford Focus Electric, the Kia Optima, the Nissan Leaf, Porsche (different models), and several from Tesla, and Volvo.

Driverless Cars & Trucks

As for autonomous vehicles (or vehicles without a driver), most people predict that we will not have fully driverless vehicles in the next ten years. But it is not the technology that is limiting. Local laws and regulations generally limit autonomous driving – for most places right now. There are also the potential insurance issue – who is responsible if an autonomous vehicle crashes?

In ten years, there may be more examples of driverless vehicles. Or vehicles that allow the driver to make a video call, or surf the Internet, or compose an email for a short period of time.

Vehicle Features

Here are some possible features and upgrades in the future:

  • In-car tech – calendars, schedules, email functionality
  • More functionality controlled at the wheel  – making a tiny swipe, without moving your hands from the wheel
  • Cars programmed with your social media, before you step into them
  • More integrated navigation – prepped with your route, and able to make suggestions to the driver
  • Information sharing amongst vehicles – upcoming slippery roads, or accidents that are ahead
  • More advanced developments with cameras and sensors to gain that “360 degree” viewpoint around the vehicle
  • Improved “sight” – using technology like radar, and helping humans drive in dusty or foggy conditions, the glare of sunshine, or night driving

Cool Interior Features

As vehicles start to be more autonomous, the interior of vehicles will start to become more important.

  • Better screens and display units (we have already seen big improvements here)
  • Gesture features – you gesture to open the door, and the car door gently swings open
  • Seats that slide away, and airplane-like table trays pop up
  • Modular and movable consoles – so a solo commuter that can do other things while in the vehicle (check emails, check Facebook, or compose an email)
  • The addition of smarter and more functional storage areas and compartments
  • An interior cannot change too much, you still need to be able to have the driver controls, back in place in a matter of seconds

Are We There Yet?

So that’s the ultimate question, are we at a point where driverless cars can be put on the roads? As mentioned above, the test fleets have been operating on public roads and doing fairly well so far. The experts consulted by Consumer Reports say tend to agree that, technologically, we are about 85 to 90 percent of the way to perfecting the hardware, guidance systems, and software to make vehicles that can reliably and safely drive themselves. However some of the toughest issues still need to be addressed – perfecting vehicle sensors to “see” in all driving conditions. The difficult insurance issues were already noted above. And also ethical driving questions (such as, should a driverless vehicle swerve to miss a small child, while endangering the life of the driver/occupant). It is extremely difficult to think of and anticipate all of the possible “real-life” scenarios that there are or could be. We are there in terms of the development of technology; it is the surrounding factors where we need to do more work.

References

Bloomberg. Ford and Domino’s to Test Acceptance of Driverless Pizza Delivery. August 29, 2017. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-29/ford-domino-s-to-test-consumer-appetite-for-driverless-delivery

BBC News. Self-driving’ Lorries to be Tested on UK Roads. August 25, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41038220

Plug N’ Drive. Electric Cars Available in Canada. 2017. https://plugndrive.ca/electric-cars-available-in-canada?page=2

Tech Radar. The Future of Driving: a Look at the Car of 2026. By Jeremy Laird. June 21, 2016. http://www.techradar.com/news/car-tech/the-future-of-driving-a-look-at-the-car-of-2026-1323413

Car and Driver. With Self-Driving Cars, It’s the Interior that Will Matter. By Bradley Berman. September 19, 2016. http://blog.caranddriver.com/self-driving-cars-promise-to-turn-automobile-styling-inside-out/

Consumer Reports. Self-Driving Cars: Driving Into the Future. By Jeff Plungis. February 28, 2017. https://www.consumerreports.org/autonomous-driving/self-driving-cars-driving-into-the-future/

Advantages of Changing Your Tires


What is a Winter Tire?

Snow tires, also called winter tires, are tires that are specially designed for use on snow and ice. They have a tread design with bigger gaps than other tires. Winter tires are designed to be used at temperatures that are less than 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Various Types of Tires

There are various types of tires:

  • Snow tires (or winter tires)
  • Snow tires that also have metal studs for more traction
  • Summer tires
  • All-season tires

Why switch your tires?

This is a very commonly asked question:  why should I switch my tires? Most people drive around with a standard set of tires on their vehicle – usually all-season tires.

Snow tires are specially designed to be used during the winter months. They are designed to provide superior handling during winter driving conditions. Snow tires are made from a rubber compound that does not harden in the cold, allowing for a better grip on the road and more traction.

Having snow tires can reduce your stopping distances by 30 to 40 percent – on snow, ice, and possibly even on cold pavement. Modern winter tires can offer up to 50 percent more traction than all-season tires.

In winter driving, it is good to be able to stop the car, especially in the event of a possible accident. Driving with other tires (summer tires or all-season tires) do not allow for the same stopping distances.

Symbols on Tires

There are some helpful symbols to look for on tires. They can help you to figure out what kind of tires you have.

Three-peaked mountain and snowflake symbol

  • You will see this symbol on the side of your tire
  • It is a three-peaked mountain, with a snowflake inside the mountain
  • Tires with this symbol are winter tires
  • Transport Canada  acknowledges that tires displaying this symbol meet the specific snow traction performance requirements
  • Tires with this symbol, have each gone through detailed testing
  • This includes testing on snow in standardized testing conditions to ensure their snow traction performance meets the minimum industry requirement

Mud and snow symbol (or M+S symbol)

  • You can find this symbol on the side of your tire
  • The symbol is M+S
  • This stands for “Mud and Snow”
  • These tires offer better traction than summer tires
  • But, they are less effective than the three-peaked mountain and snowflake tires, for snow and ice – and even in cold weather

In British Columbia, all winter tires need to have a 3.5 mm tread to be considered a winter tire. Please check the tire tread. Any tires that are worn down, below 3.5 mm will have reduced traction, and cannot be used for winter driving.

Winter in Canada

In British Columbia, over several years, we mostly had rain. But during the winter of 2016-2017, we experienced several snow events. This included snow days into February and March 2017. Definitely we also need to consider driving conditions outside of the Lower Mainland. If you are driving elsewhere – be ready to drive in those areas – and check the road conditions before leaving for your journey.

As for driving throughout Canada, it’s always a good idea to check what the guidelines are for that particular province.  In British Columbia, drivers must obey the driving rules as posted. There are driving guidelines for driving with winter tires and chains between October 1st and March 31st. These will be posted in certain areas (like driving in the Interior of the province). Driving throughout most of B.C. included encountering snow and ice conditions.

The Province of British Columbia has information on winter driving posted here: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/traveller-information/seasonal/winter-driving/winter-tires-and-chains/about-winter-tires

Driving in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, means driving in a temperate climate. You are not required to purchase winter tires. But – be prepared for changing weather conditions, driving to other areas in B.C, or heading to higher mountain conditions (such as Whistler or the Coquihalla Highway).

Purchasing Tires

If you are in the market to purchase tires here is some helpful information for you:

  • You are the driver of your own vehicle, and you know the most information about the vehicle
  • The driver will be the one making their own choices, about what to purchase
  • Individual drivers in Canada, usually drive with all-season tires
  • The choice to purchase winter tires has a variety of factors:
    • The amount of winter weather in your area
    • Budget
    • Your personal comfort level driving in winter weather – including on snow and ice
    • How frequently you drive your vehicle
    • How long winter lasts in your area of Canada

Previously Used Tires

After covering different types of tires, there are other things to consider. You can always head to a tire shop, and consult with the sales people. There are a variety of shops and also brands of tires. Another route that is sometimes used is to purchase used tires.

Considerations if you are going to purchase used tires:

  • Some used tires are only slightly worn – they may be worth a look
  • There are safety issues when buying used tires
  • Look for defects, punctures, and tread-wear
  • Do not purchase tires that have previously been patched or plugged
  • Check out the general shape of the tire (because tires can deflate during storage)
  • Tires that are worn, will not stop as fast, and can skid on wet surfaces
  • New tires usually come with a warranty – a used tire will not have this warranty
  • Make sure that any tire you purchase, will actually fit your vehicle

Consumer Reports makes another good point: “We officially don’t recommend used tires and the basic reason is because you don’t know what you’re getting,” says Gene Petersen, Consumer Report’s head of tire testing. “There’s no way to see the internal structure of the tire.”

Please have a look through all of the helpful references below, to help you in your future tire purchases. Tire safety is an important factor in driving safety.

References

The Tire and Rubber Association for Canada. What You Should Know. Winter 2016: http://www.tracanada.ca/wintertirevideos/whatyoushouldknow.html

Wikipedia – Snow Tire: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_tire

The Government of British Columbia – About Winter Tires: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/traveller-information/seasonal/winter-driving/winter-tires-and-chains/about-winter-tires

BC Government News. October 1, 2014: https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/a-reminder-that-winter-tire-rules-kick-in-october-1

CBC. Winter Tire Rules Take Effect on B.C. Highways as Soon as the Snow Flies in the Northeast.  October 1, 2016: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/winter-tires-required-1.3787701

Tirecraft. Winter Tires: https://tirecraft.com/tires-wheels/winter-tires/

How Stuff Works /Auto. 12 Tire Buying Tips. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/buying-selling/cg-tire-buying-tips7.htm

The Globe and Mail. Tread Carefully if You are Buying Used Winter Tires. December 17, 2013: https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/commuting/tread-carefully-if-youre-buying-used-winter-tires/article15985882/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

The Role of Occupational Therapists in Car Accident Recovery


What is an Occupational Therapist?

That’s usually the first question people have – what is an occupational therapist? They are also called an OT (stands for Occupational Therapist).

Occupational therapists develop individual and group programs with people affected by illness, injury, developmental disorders, emotional or psychological problems and aging to maintain, restore or increase their ability to care for themselves and to engage in work, school or leisure. They also develop and implement health promotion programs with individuals, community groups and employers (from the Canadian National Occupational Classification 2016).

They can have a variety of titles – clinical occupational therapist, community occupational therapist, home care occupational therapist, occupational therapy consultant, research occupational therapist etc.

What does an Occupational Therapist do?

From day to day, what does an occupational therapist (OT) do?

An occupation therapist will find out what clients cannot do, and what they would like to do. They are reviewing your ability to perform everyday activities successful and effectively.

Things that an OT may check:

  • Look at your physical abilities like balance, strength, and coordination
  • Mental abilities such as memory, coping strategies, or organization skills
  • Items you use to participate – clothes, furniture, tools, or utensils
  • What social and emotional support is available to you at home, at school, at work, or in the community
  • The physical set up of your home, work, classroom, or other environment

Occupational therapists are problem solvers. There are a number of things they can do.

Help someone overcome a disability:

  • They can educate or instruct you on how to do things with the abilities you have – like getting around your house in a wheelchair
  • They can suggest activities that will help you improve or maintain the abilities you have – e.g. improving your coping strategies

OTs can adapt the materials you use:

  • Could install a grab rail near the bed for you to use
  • Introduce new materials, like a chunky pen, if you have difficulty grabbing small items
  • Adding items like an electric toothbrush or electric can opener
  • Introduce new fixtures like a raised toilet seat
  • A device to help you turn the pages of a book

They can recommend changes to the environments where you do your everyday activities:

  • Possibly adding a ramp, so an area can be accessed by a wheelchair
  • Fitting a stair lift into your home
  • Recommending the lowering or raising of a desk – so it is easier to use
  • Clearing up clutter, or reorganizing your cupboards so you can safely move around and reach what you need

If you are injured, how can an Occupational Therapist help you?

For people who have been in a car accident or a pedestrian accident, an occupational therapist can help you.

Occupational therapists work in facilities, in private practice, in hospitals, and some are self-employed. They provide assessment and treatment, during recovery from vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents.

They are experienced in handling a variety of cases. These include individuals who have survived accidents but may have physical or cognitive challenges in their lives as a result of their impairment or disability, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputations, chronic pain, and mental illness.

Occupational therapists can assist by completing the necessary forms for assessment and treatment plans. Then they can work to improve an individual’s function – at various points during recovery. An occupational therapist helps with the recovery process, from discharge from the hospital to resuming normal life activities. A case manager may be assigned to coordinate all the services that may be needed (such as the medical and rehabilitation professionals).

How can you find an Occupational Therapist?

If you are in British Columbia, it is not difficult to find an occupational therapist. One way to do some quick searching is through the College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia — https://cotbc.org/. They have a search feature on this page. You can call them at 1-866-386-6822 (toll free in B.C.), and you can email them at info@cotbc.org as well. After doing a few quick searches, there are occupational therapists throughout the Lower Mainland. Several of them work in multiple clinics as well.

Occupational Therapists, who are registered with the College of Occupational Therapists of B.C., have to follow a Code of Ethics, and that is also available on the website (https://cotbc.org/).

References:

The National Occupational Classification – 2016 edition http://noc.esdc.gc.ca/English/NOC/SearchIndex.aspx?val=3&val1=3143&ver=16&val65=occupational+therapist (updated on April 20, 2017)

The College of Occupational Therapists of British Columbia. https://cotbc.org/  (Copyright 2015)

Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. How does Occupational Therapy Help? https://www.caot.ca/site/aboutot/howOThelp?nav=sidebar  (updated 2016)

NHS Choices (The National Health Service – UK). Occupational Therapy – Techniques and Equipment http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/occupational-therapy/Pages/techniques-and-equipment.aspx (August 2014)

ModernOT (based in Ottawa, Ontario). Case Managers & Certified Life Care Providers http://modernot.ca/our-team/case-managers-certified-life-care-providers/ (Copyright 2017)

What Happens if I Can’t Go Back to Work After an Accident? Vocational Rehab Explained


What is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational rehabilitation (or vocational rehab) is defined as a process which enables persons with functional, psychological, developmental, cognitive and emotional impairments or health disabilities to overcome barriers to accessing, maintaining or returning to employment or other useful occupation. People who have suffered a brain injury from a car accident may benefit from Vocational rehab. Vocational rehab can require a number of things such as:

  • Assessment and appraisal
  • Goal setting
  • Support for health conditions
  • Referral to other services or service providers
  • Career counselling
  • Workplace evaluations

Vancouver based Vocational Consultant, Dennis Shaw, from Vocational Solutions (http://www.vocationalsolutions.ca/) says “early intervention is key to a timely and effective return to work”.

What happens during a vocational rehab assessment?

  • The assessment looks at questions that arise after employment is interrupted due to an accident, illness, or an injury
  • Aptitude testing
  • Achievement testing
  • Job search assistance
  • Making a list of possible career options for someone
  • Mood and anxiety inventories (these may influence a return to work)
  • Determining the appropriate levels of assistance

Returning to Work

WorkSafeBC notes that if you are injured on the job, one of the best things you can do for your recovery, is to return to work as soon as it is safe to do so. Going back to your daily work and activities can help you to recover more successfully.

According to a 2008 study, published in the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 62 percent of the clients in the study were gainfully employed, after receiving vocational rehabilitation services (U.S. study, using American data).

Being Off Work

Not working can have a number of impacts:

  • Not working has shown to have elevated rates of physical and mental health problems
  • Can lead to higher levels of depression
  • It can be difficult to return to work after a long period of time
  • Unemployment can lead to a lower life expectancy
  • Can also have impacts on the wider community around you

Positive things about working:

  • Working can improve your self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Working can bring structure and purpose to your day
  • It has shown to be good for physical and mental well-being
  • Work can add to your sense of belonging and personal identity

What Happens if You Cannot Go Back to your Original Job?

The first outcome of a vocational rehabilitation assessment is that the accessor would attempt to place you back in exactly the same job that you had before the accident and/or injury.

If that’s not possible, then next steps are taken:

It may be an option, to return to your old workplace, but doing a different role.

The next step would be to look at employment with a new employer. At this point, work is done to create a suitable return-to-work goal.

The ultimate goal is to get you back to suitable, long-term work. Labour market research can be conducted to help establish what type of job would be appropriate.

The research done can determine what kinds of positions exist, and if re-training is needed, and what kinds of retraining. Each type of return-to-work plan is unique and designed specifically for each individual.

Useful resources:

Vocational Solutions Inc. http://www.vocationalsolutions.ca/

WorkSafeBC resources: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/claims/benefits-services/vocational-rehabilitation

The Province of B.C. information on vocational rehabilitation: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/employment-standards-advice/personal-injury-and-workplace-safety/factsheets/vocational-rehabilitation-5645

Top Safety Features for Buying a New Car


If you were looking to purchase a new vehicle, what safety features do you need to know about? What is popular in the marketplace? And what about new features – introduced in the last few years?

In 2015, just in the Lower Mainland area, 200,000 vehicle crashes occurred. For passengers, injuries can be sustained in car accidents – including brain injuries. We also want to prevent situations, such as distracted driving. But one method of prevention for vehicle passengers is to look at some of the basic safety features that are available in vehicles.

Basic Safety Features

Seatbelts

As early as the 1930s and 1940s, features were being introduced to vehicles to make them safer. A basic item, that never gets enough credit, is the seatbelt. In the 1930s, two American doctors advocated the usage of seatbelts. One of those doctors, C.J. Strickland, later came to create the Automobile Safety League of America.

Safety Glass and Windshields

In early cars, windshields were not standard equipment. As more and more vehicles took to the roads, the rates increased of the possibility of being harmed by flying rocks or other debris. By 1937, safety glass was mandated for use in all cars. Around this time, is when tempered glass became introduced for all North American vehicles.

Child Car Seats

Early car seats were meant to lift children up – so they could see outside. Only later, did occupant safety become something creators focused on. In 1962, two people designed a car seat with safety in mind. American Len Rivkin designed a seat of metal framing into which a child was buckled, and also from Britain, Jean Ames designed a rear-facing car seat.

Air Bags

In the 1980s, airbags became an optional feature in new vehicles. By 1989, Chrysler was the first U.S. car manufacturer to install driver-side airbags in all of their domestically produced vehicles. But airbags are now much more commonly included in vehicles. They became standard on cars in 1998 and light trucks in 1999.

Car Lights and Reflectors

Vehicles include a number of lights and reflectors. These features outline the vehicles: presence, position, width, length, and direction of travel, and also features to indicate intentions to other drivers. Some of these features are: headlights, rear lights, side marker lights and reflectors, turn signals, brake lights, and lights for reversing. Daytime running lights have been required in Canada since 1990.

New Safety Features and Enhancements

There are many newer safety features. In addition to what we may consider basic safety features listed above, here are some of the new features and enhancements.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)

With regular brakes, it was fairly common that the brakes could lock during hard braking. But an anti-lock braking system prevents this from happening, with sensors on each wheel and a computer that maximizes braking action at each wheel, to prevent them from locking up. ABS allows the driver to continue to have steering control while braking; and then the driver can maneuver around an obstacle.

Blind Spot Detection

Blind spot detection provides a bit more than the side mirrors can provide. They provide cameras or sensors to detect when a vehicle pulls beside you. They can trigger a warning that it is not safe to change lanes. Some vehicles have a more active form of blind spot detection, which steers you back to your lane, if it is unsafe to change lanes.

Electronic Stability Control

The electronic stability control (ESC) system helps keep the vehicle on its intended path during a turn, and avoid sliding or skidding. The ESC is extremely helpful for tall or top-heavy vehicles like sport-utilities and pick-ups. It can help keep these vehicles out of situations where it may rollover.

Backup Cameras

These are cameras that are in place, to help you while you are in reverse. The rear view is displayed in a centre console screen or on the rear-view mirror. These are commonly used as a parking aid, but they are also effective to see if there are pedestrians in the blind spots behind the vehicle. Transport Canada has determined that all new cars and small trucks will have to contain backup cameras by May 2018. This change now puts Canadian regulations in line with U.S. standards.

Lane Monitoring Assist

Lane assistance warning or prevention is helpful if you drift out of your lane, while adjusting the radio, or something else. This drifting is common, but it can also be a common cause of accidents. Most of these warning systems include cameras mounted on the side mirror or rear view mirror, to watch for lane markings. The system will warn you when a tire is about to unintentionally drift over the lane marking.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Cruise control can be a great feature on longer drives, but turning it off can be a hassle. Using a radar sensor, active cruise control (ACC) can tell when a car ahead of you is moving slower than your car, and can adjust your speed accordingly. These systems usually have a setting that varies the gap between your car and the car in front of you, depending how comfortable you are with the distance.

Automatic Emergency Braking

With the use of cameras or sensors, the vehicle is able to see if you need to brake due to an obstacle or other obstruction. It will sense a potential collision, and if the driver doesn’t react in time, the car will initiate automatic braking.

Pedestrian Detection

This new feature is using forward collision control to protect pedestrians. The vehicle’s camera or radar is looking for pedestrians in the vehicle’s path. Some systems will alert the driver with an audible or visual alert. On some vehicle models, the automatic emergency braking will start if the chance of a collision is deemed to be high.

This article outlines some of the safest vehicles that are on the market: https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/cars-with-the-best-safety-features

References

PC Magazine – The Best Driver-Assist Cars of 2017

Written January 18, 2017

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2485278,00.asp

U.S. News & World Report – 11 Cars with the Best Safety Features

Written May 19, 2017

https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/cars-with-the-best-safety-features

Consumer Reports – Guide to Car Safety Features

Last updated June 2016

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/04/guide-to-safety-features/index.htm

Wikipedia – Vehicle Safety

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile_safety

All New Cars Must Have Rear-View Backup Cameras Starting May 2018…

Written October 31, 2016

A Clear View: History of Automobile Safety Glass

http://www.secondchancegarage.com/public/windshield-history.cfm

Updated 2017

The General History of Car Seats

Written July 16, 2015

ICBC – Updated Statistics

January 2017

http://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/newsroom/Pages/Statistics.aspx

Where do the most accidents happen?…And how to prevent them


If you are hoping to avoid a car accident, one thing you may want to know about, is where the most accidents happen in the Lower Mainland.

Where is the most common intersection?

From all the research, the most commonly listed intersection is in Burnaby, at the interchange of the Trans-Canada Highway and Willingdon Avenue. This includes the on- and off- ramps, and the turning lane. This intersection has the distinction of being the most crash-prone in all of British Columbia.

The Most Common Collision Intersections (2015 list):

  1. Burnaby – Trans-Canada Highway and Willingdon Avenue
  2. Coquitlam/New Westminster – Trans-Canada Highway and Brunette Avenue
  3. Burnaby – Trans-Canada Highway and Gaglardi Way
  4. Vancouver – Knight Street and SE Marine Drive
  5. Langley – 264th Street and 56th Avenue (near Hwy. 1)
  6. Burnaby – Kensington Avenue and Trans-Canada Highway
  7. Langley – 232nd Street and 72nd Avenue (near Hwy. 1)
  8. Surrey – 88th Avenue and King George Boulevard
  9. Surrey – 128th Street and King George Boulevard
  10. Surrey – 72nd Avenue and King George Boulevard

A trend from the list

If you read the information from above, many of these locations involve on- and off- ramps for the Trans-Canada Highway. These are various spots along the highway, within the Lower Mainland (from Vancouver, out to the Langley area).

Wait a minute….just cars?

This information is about accidents – one vehicle crashing into another vehicle. However, the Vancouver Police Department notes that many of these accidents involve pedestrians, some that include pedestrian fatalities. Take care while driving, but do not forget about pedestrians while out on the roads.

Information on Distracted Driving

Texting while driving is truly a distraction. In British Columbia, this has become an even greater problem. In June 2016, the province of B.C. more than doubled the fines for a first time offender for texting while driving (to $368). And repeat offenders will receive escalating fines for each offence. “Some people are still not getting the message,” Transportation Minister Todd Stone said in a statement. “Today’s announcement … sends the message loud and clear. We will not tolerate distracted driving on our roads.”

On their website, the Canadian Automobile Association notes that drivers who engage in text messaging are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash, or near crash event, compared to non-distracted drivers.

New York State is looking into possible legislation, to find out if drivers were texting while driving, at the time of a car crash. This new idea is being compared to a breathalyzer, called a `texalyzer`. This would allow police at an accident scene to immediately examine drivers’ cellphones with a device to see if they had been texting, swiping, or clicking. At least 46 states in the U.S.A. have banned texting while driving.

B.C. Legal Challenge

Much more recently, the laws in B.C. were challenged. During March 2017, the police handed out 764 distracted driving tickets in Burnaby. A man in North Vancouver challenged a ticket he was given – not for speaking on his phone – but for plugging it in while stopped at a red light. The B.C. Supreme Court has ruled this ticket is valid. The law cast a wide net, and has to do with the handling of the device, not whether it is was sending or receiving messages.

Car Accident Prevention

Vehicle accidents can be serious. They can lead to death, brain injuries, pedestrian accidents, and of course, damage to vehicles as well. Read to learn 10 tips for recovering from car accident related injuries.

Distracted Driving

There are several helpful suggestions to aid with distracted driving:

  • Only use a cellphone in the car, in case of emergency
  • Better idea – pull over to use the cellphone, or make that call
  • For new drivers, take several months, before you drive with friends in the car

Speeding

  • Always follow the posted speed limit
  • Speed limits are set for ideal conditions (slow down in bad weather, or with a high traffic volume)
  • Note where you are driving — slower in residential neighbourhoods
  • Keep an eye out for school zones, and park areas
  • Speeding is often mentioned as a contributing factor, in police-reported crashes

Driving at Night   

  • All drivers need to slow down for night driving
  • Experienced drivers are more able to anticipate and react to hazards
  • As you learn to drive at night, you will become a better night-time driver

High-Risk Driving

The lists above include a number of helpful ideas. Here are some more specifics on high-risk factors.

  • Be sure to yield. Failure to yield is one of the leading causes of crashes in B.C.
  • Extra caution is needed when yielding, while making a left turn
  • In B.C., 7 out of 10 pedestrians are killed, from vehicles turning left – while the pedestrian had the right of way
  • Do not count on others to obey the rules of the road, or to make allowances for you
  • Obey traffic signals – including yellow lights and stop signs
  • Do not sail through stop signs; this can put others at risk
  • A yellow light means you must stop unless it is unsafe to do so
  • Following too closely (or tailgating), does not allow you enough time to stop in an emergency
  • Passing can be dangerous, especially passing on the right, and when your line of sight is obscured
  • Passing around big trucks can be difficult, always give yourself enough room to do this

ICBC has put together a list of items on High Risk Driving here.

And, there’s information out there for new drivers as well, from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Teen Driving Source

References

Most Dangerous Intersections in Metro Vancouver http://www.vancouversun.com/news/crash/metro+vancouver+most+dangerous+intersections/3508377/story.html — written October 2010 (accessed May 25, 2017)

The Top 10 Most Dangerous Intersections in Vancouver

http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2015/11/dangerous-intersections-vancouver/ — written November 2015  (accessed May 25, 2017)

B.C. More Than Doubles Penalty for Distracted Driving

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-distracted-driving-law-change-1.3573249 — written May 2016 (accessed May 25, 2017)

Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), on Distracted Driving

https://www.caa.ca/distracted-driving/

(accessed May 25, 2017)

New York Eyes ‘textalyzer’ to Combat Distracted Driving

http://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/new-york-eyes-textalyzer-to-combat-distracted-driving-1.3413000 — written May 2017 (accessed May 25, 2017)

B.C. Supreme Court Ruling Sets Strict Standard for Distracted Driving

http://globalnews.ca/news/3482550/b-c-supreme-court-ruling-sets-strict-standard-for-distracted-driving/ — written May 26, 2017 (accessed May 30, 2017)

Teen Driver Source, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Research Institute http://www.teendriversource.org/more_pages/page/car_accident_prevention/teen — updated August 2016 (accessed May 30, 2017)

Why Crashes Happen? (ICBC)  http://www.icbc.com/road-safety/crashes-happen/Pages/Default.aspx   (accessed on May 30, 2017)